The Art of Evergreen Content with Toyin Alli
Toyin, a mathematics professor and entrepreneur, shares her expertise in planning & creating evergreen content that captivates your audience loooooong after you've created it!
Basically, how would it change your life to repurpose your early emails, save ‘em for future use, and maintain momentum of building a relationship with your audience as it grows?
Yeah. It’s cool.
Toyin also talks about how to organize your past content into groups based on your offers, providing consistent nurturing and value to your audience!
Learn how to ensure that every subscriber, regardless of when they join your email list, receives your valuable content.
We talk frequency. We talk consistency. And we talk imaginative ways to incorporate calls to action in your newsletters that go beyond selling!
Thanks to Toyin for sharing actionable strategies and a fresh perspective on content creation for entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, and academics!
Toyin has a couple of Special Offers for listeners of Content Creation Made Easy:
Monetize Your List with an Evergreen Newsletter Audio Guide (free) : https://www.drtoyinalli.com/evergreen-newsletter-audio-guide,
The Evergreen Email Blueprint ($100 off): https://cheerful-producer-4810.ck.page/products/the-evergreen-email-blueprint?promo=BLUEPRINT
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Watch The Full Video!
Hello, welcome to today's episode of Content Creation Made Easy. I'm your host, as always, Jen Liddy, and today I'm talking about one of my favorite nerdiest topics: email.
But I've got a different take on it today, and I've got an expert that I met in a group that I'm in, and I'm so excited to introduce you to Dr. Toyin Alli.
Toyin is a mathematics professor and an entrepreneur, and I love talking to people who manage to do two things at once.
I can barely get over the finish line every day doing one thing, and so people who can do these multiple things, I'm always fascinated.
What Toyin does is she runs two brands. She has the Academic Society where that's all about helping grad students with time management and productivity.
And then she's got a business consultancy. And there she helps professors and academics, who – I love this – build a reliably profitable business that they can operate on five hours a week or less.
First of all, the fact that you're doing both of those is mind blowing to me. I don't know if you know I used to be a high school teacher and a college professor.
So I can't imagine doing anything else on top of that. So God bless you, God bless these professors who want to do more, and they're probably very lucky to have you in their quarter.
So thanks for being on today, Toyin.
Thank you so much. I just have to say it does seem like I'm doing a lot, but I do everything very strategically. I'm a very efficient person
Love that. Yes, and that is why I think this conversation is going to be so useful for my audience today.
So my audience is usually solopreneurs, they're experts in their field, they are usually service-based providers, and they think in ideas and the ethers.
They have a million ideas, it's hard for them to harness their ideas, which is why I think today when we talk about evergreen newsletters, this is going to be so perfect for them because it's a way for them to harness their brilliance without that churn-churn-churn that can sometimes burn them out from doing content. So thank you for being here.
Yeah, thank you for having me. And even though I'm very efficient, I do have a bunch of ideas and wanna start a new business every day, and will say the one thing that keeps me from jumping on every little idea I have is I actually take the time, sit down, map out all of my ideas and then just save it in a corner for another day.
Yes, and I think I was actually watching a conversation happen online today.
I'm listening to a summit that's happening right now and in the Facebook group, there's people talking about all of the ideas that are being generated by them just listening to the summit.
One woman said, “I just take the ideas, and I put them in my little book, and I know they're for me later.”
The other woman said,”That would never work for me, I'm just gonna spin myself into oblivion.”
And I was like, “No, take her advice, put it down someplace, map it out. Because, why spin out if you don't have to?”
Okay, let's talk about what this notion of evergreen newsletters is. I'm really excited to hear about this because I got onto this list one time by this really pretty famous writer, and her emails are just those emails you wanna sop up.
They're just delicious. And I got to the end of her evergreen series, and I didn't hear from her for a while, so I had emailed her customer service people, and I was like, “Maybe I fell off the list, but I'm not getting these emails anymore.”
And they were like, “No, you just got to the end of the Evergreen newsletter sequence.”
And I was like, “What the hell is this?” So when I met you, and you were, this is what I can talk about on your podcast, I'm like “Please enlighten me.”
What is an evergreen newsletter?
Oh my gosh, it's the best thing ever. It's so helpful for someone like me who's doing a bunch of other things.
It's a way that you can stay top of mind with your audience without having to create the content in real time every single week.
An evergreen newsletter is very much like a welcome sequence that just goes on for a long time. It can go on for three months, six months, a year.
And when I was first building my very first evergreen newsletter, I had a very small email list and I was sending an email to maybe 10 people and I was like, “Oh, this email is so good.”
And when someone new joins my list, they just missed out on the email. So what I started doing is every time I wrote an email that I just loved, I added it to my evergreen newsletter.
So no matter when people join me, they're able to see my best stuff consistently.
So good! I love that. This is an incredibly simple concept that I have overcomplicated in my mind.
Yeah, it's very simple.
Okay, first of all, I love that you love your content because I think a lot of times people come to me and they're like, “This is just meh, my content's crappy,” but you've got good content. There's good shit in there, right?
Oh yeah, so good. Especially when you're very passionate about what you're talking about.
Sometimes I think I'm just gonna write something really quick and then it's thousands of words. I'm like, “Oh, this is very long. Maybe this is a two-parter,” but I just have so much to say about my topic.
Yeah, so that's my first thing. I love that you love your content.
The second thing is acknowledging that when you send an email, it goes out into the ethers, you send it once, maybe you turn it into a blog post so it lives someplace else, but all those new people never got to enjoy it.
So what are we gonna do about that? What kind of person, where are they in their journey, that starting to use an evergreen newsletter would be a smart move for them?
I would say probably at any stage, but definitely if you're at the very beginning or if you have been doing it for a while and you got a lot of content banked up.
So at the very beginning, it can feel very disheartening to write emails to maybe five people. And you're pouring your heart out. Like, “This is so good. I'm so excited to talk about it and wonderful. My mom and my grandma and my two friends are my email list.”
Great, great, great. But then down the road, once you start to build up an audience and more people join you, it starts to feel like, “Oh, well, I've already talked about this stuff before.”
Maybe you don't feel as motivated to write about the stuff you've talked about at the beginning. Saving the emails you write at the beginning and adding them to your evergreen newsletter is very helpful because you get to repurpose all of that juice and excitement that you have in the beginning.
So when new people join you and they join your evergreen newsletter, they're just getting the very refreshed version of you versus the one that's burnt out later.
That's a good point. And the version of you later has probably moved on from the initial pain points that you started talking about and so maybe you don't circle back around to those as much.
But those people, especially if they come in using your lead magnet, they're still at the beginning of their customer journey. You've got to meet them where they are.
Yes. And another thing, even if you pivot and maybe refine what you're saying and you get more nuanced and you get more specific about who you're talking to and what the problem is, those emails are saved in the sequence.
You can go back and tweak little things in your evergreen newsletter. You get all the stats like you do with any email, you can figure out the open rate, the click through rate.
And if you see that an email in your evergreen newsletter, maybe that open rate is lower, maybe you tweak the subject line or maybe you tweak the call to action if the clicks aren't coming.
And so you can always go back and you're not just starting from scratch. And I would also say for the people who have been creating content for a very long time, it's so easy to set up your evergreen newsletter because you have so much backlog.
You've got your Instagram posts, you've got your videos, you've got the podcast you've been interviewed on, you've got your own podcast if you have one, you have old emails saved in your ConvertKit account from two years ago! Just throw them in the evergreen newsletter.
And you can actually be strategic about it. So I have this whole Google doc where, “This how I create my own Evergreen newsletter” I think about who the newsletter is for.
It might not even be for my whole audience. Maybe it's a specific subset of the audience. And then I think about, “Okay, what's the purpose of this newsletter?” And I think about what offers I have that these people might be interested in.
Then when I'm collecting all of my, I call it collateral. So this is all the past content I've created. I organize it so that I group it based on the offers.
And so I can give all this nurture and value that's related to one topic, knowing that it's gonna lead to an offer.
So if you have any evergreen offers, you can insert the pitch into your evergreen newsletter as well so people are just always seeing your offers without you having to pitch it.
‘Cause when you talk about your offers a lot, it kind of feels like, “Oh my gosh, people don't really care about my offers anymore. I'm talking about it. I need to add value.”
But with an evergreen newsletter, you are adding value and then you're also selling. So you get to automate your selling as well.
Where does something more timely, for example in my business, I'm going to be sending out a survey soon because I want to know more about the people on my email list.
So it's really very timely, it's very topical, and I'm doing a giveaway along with it. Where does something like that work with this strategy?
So this would be a broadcast versus the evergreen newsletter.
The broadcast, you send out at a specific time on this date. If someone joins your email list after you send it out, they don't get that email, right?
So you can have an evergreen newsletter and still send out weekly emails. You can set your evergreen newsletter to go out on Tuesdays and maybe send your weekly emails on Wednesdays or Thursdays, or maybe you're not that consistent with your weekly emails.
Maybe it's a monthly thing, or it's two weeks later, or five months later, but your people are still hearing from you weekly because of your evergreen news.
So it's like a backup plan in case you can't send an email every week.
How many emails do you have in your evergreen sequence right now? I'm curious.
That's a great question. So I'm building a new one. I currently have maybe 10 right now in the one I just started a couple of months ago.
But in my other business, the one I've had for a couple of years, I'm not sure about the number of emails, but it goes on for about four months.
Okay, and then what happens at the end of four months?
Yeah, so it depends. I kind of weave in different things. Sometimes I'll do a little cash injection.
So I have a book, I have an ebook that I wrote. Well, you can also buy the hard copy. But one day I was really excited to talk about my books.
I put together some testimonials and I wrote a three email sequence on what people have gotten out of the book and why it's so important to read it, things like that.
And I did a little discount on a timer and it went over really well. I was like, “Oh, I'll just add this.” Yeah, I added it to my upgrading sequence.
I just add other sequences at the end of it as well. ConvertKit makes it really easy with their visual automation.
You're like, “Okay, after they get through this sequence, put them in the next one or continue to add emails to them.”
Nice. I also love, you kind of glossed over this, but you dropped a gem. "Calls to action are not always my thing."
And it's not always valuable, how to-how to-how to. Here's a podcast I guested on. Here's my podcast. Here's a video I did. Here's an old Instagram post you might love.
I find this with my private clients if they're not selling, they don't know what to do for a call to action.
So what I'm hearing you say is basically make a list of all the content collateral that you have and get creative about what that word means to you.
Exactly. Yes. In my collateral, I have Instagram posts, YouTube videos, podcast episodes I've been invited on, maybe old webinars I've done, just so much stuff. There's so much.
Your first business was the business working as a guide or facilitator for grad students?
Yes, I help grad students. I help them, incoming grad students, I help them understand what to expect in grad school, but I also help current grad students with time management productivity.
So I have programs around that, an accountability program, templates, things like that.
Okay, do you consider yourself a coach there?
No, I consider myself more of a digital products creator, maybe. I don't do any coaching there, but I do sell online courses and other digital products.
Oh, okay, cool. I totally thought you had a coaching business with them. So how do you work with grad students then?
Yeah, so I can tell you about one of my programs. It's called Focus. It is a productivity and accountability program because one of their big issues is they have a lot to do and sometimes they don't feel motivated.
They procrastinate and they just really need someone to help them actually sit down and get work done. And so I have a framework around it, but also it's very much a community involved program.
It's mostly hosted in this Facebook group. So they have their own private Facebook group where I'm in. Automated posts every week where I ask, "What are your top three goals for the week?"
And I'll come back in and check in on you at the end of the week. And at the end of the week, I ask, “How did you do on these goals?”
And also we have a 24/7 co-working space, which is just a Zoom room that's open. They have the password.
Oh, they can go in anytime. Brilliant.
Mm-hmm. So they go in the group. So it's run by them really. So they go into the group and say, “Hey you guys, I'm working from one to five. Anyone want to join me?”
And they'll join each other in the co-working space. Then once a month, we have these planning sessions where we go through my project management framework.
It sounds like entrepreneurs could use that too. It sounds like you could just open up another Olive Garden right next door to Olive Garden and you can, my husband and I say, because every time we drive by Olive Garden it is packed to the gills.
I'm like, “They should just open up in a second or Chick-fil-A, they should open up another Chick-fil-A.” But it sounds like you could open up another Chick-fil-A next to Chick-fil-A because I think entrepreneurs need exactly what you've got.
Yeah, well, there's an idea if anyone wants to take it and run with it.
Okay, so you are sending your evergreen emails to your grad students and then you've got this other side business working with entrepreneurs too, as a strategist?
Correct. And yes, I'm currently building my evergreen newsletter for them.
I think the thing that's scary about it is when you hear it's a six month long sequence, it feels like you have to make it all at once. You don't.
I recommend if you're going to do weekly, you can start with five emails, get the first five written, and then that gives you five weeks to write the next one.
You just have to be ahead of that first person who's gonna get to the end of that five weeks.
Exactly. And ConvertKit now has a setting where even if they do get to the end, they'll hold them there. And if I write a new email, they'll send them the next email, which is so nice.
I didn't know I could do that before. So I started with the first five and then I wrote a few more.
I'm about maybe two weeks ahead of them now. So I'll probably write a couple more. I would say every month I'll sit down and write like three emails to add to the newsletter.
I love this idea so much, especially because I've been creating content since 2016 or so and I have some gems in there and they have never seen the light of day.
They would definitely need to be tweaked, updated, but this gets me thinking about your content that you've created for your grad students. I'm wondering, can any of that be tweaked for your entrepreneurs?
For sure. Like the piece around managing your time and doing multiple things at once, they definitely need that.
It would definitely need to be tweaked because I do specifically talk to grad students. But everything I do involves time management and productivity.
That's just who I am. I'm all about the efficiency, the strategy, optimizing time, working, using your strengths. So have you done like the strengths finder?
I haven't, but I did the DISC. You and I are both Cs, I think, right?
Well, in Strengths Finder, my top strength is Maximizer, which means I am not interested in getting better at things that I'm not good at.
I'm only interested in getting better at the things I'm already good at. So I have blinders onto this stuff that's not my strength. I just get better and better at the stuff I'm already good at.
I love this. I think that must be me too, because I wind up taking courses and shit I'm already kind of good at and I just get a little bit better at it and better at it. I'm like, “Why am I doing this? I need to learn other stuff.”
I love it. I love learning. So I'm always trying to get better at the stuff I'm already good at.
Is there anything that, in your first go around with the Evergreen newsletter, is there anything that you were like, “Oh, I wish I had done this, or if I had to give somebody a piece of advice or something to avoid, it would be that.”
I would say going in with a plan. So the first go round, I've since shuffled things around, but with my first evergreen newsletter for my grad students, it was just an email, I added it to the newsletter.
I wrote an email, I added [it] to the newsletter. And every now and then maybe I'll do a cash injection or like a mini launch or something and then I'll add it to the newsletter. But it didn't really have a nice flow.
The sequencing wasn't quite right. It was just a random hodgepodge of content. Now with this newer Evergreen newsletter I'm creating, I'm being way more intentional about it.
I'm thinking about exactly what my offers are. I'm thinking about the customer journey. I'm thinking about what do they need to hear? What would be helpful at this point? Matching up the offers with the content, things like that. So strategy would be my piece of advice.
I love that. When I think about somebody who's either just beginning in their business, they might not have the clarity that you have, right?
They might not quite know all the answers to what is the customer journey, what are my offers. But I want to encourage people, and I think you would agree with me, not to avoid doing this evergreen model just because you don't have it all figured out.
You can go back later and reshuffle.
Oh yeah, you can always change it at any time.
And I think if I had had the presence of mind to do this or I even understood this was a thing, I could have been reusing my content in so many ways and not feeling like I always need to keep up with a weekly email. I love this idea so, so much.
It's especially important for people who get their clients because of their email. It took me a while to figure this out when I was doing my grad school stuff and going all in.
I started in 2017. I would do a YouTube video and then I would write an email about it and then I would talk about it on Instagram and Facebook.
And so I was kind of doing all of these things until one day I was like, “You know what? Is all of this really being an efficient use of my time?”
So I tracked for a whole year, I tracked all of my stats. I tracked where people were coming from, how many views I got on certain things.
And the overwhelming thing that happened was the people who purchased from me, they were on my email list or they saw my YouTube, not my social media at all. So now I don't even focus on social media. I do it when I feel inspired to.
So if you are someone who's like, ‘Social media is not really the thing for me,’ or ‘I'm just not really seeing the results from it,’ I would spend that time working on the evergreen newsletter because your newsletter is where the people are connecting with you.
I love this. You are singing such a beautiful song to my heart. I can't wait to be done with social media. I'm very, very close.
I think my favorite marketing thing that I do is write my emails and do these podcast interviews because those are the things that fill me up and I find social media depletes me.
You know I'm thinking also, if you wanted to take this idea of evergreen content, I did an interview with a woman named Deanna Seymour who teaches the Instagram 9 grid focus.
Do you know what that is? On your Instagram homepage, those top nine grids that you can see, you have evergreen content there.
So if somebody's coming to look for you, and maybe you're only doing Reels or you're doing stories, but you're not churning out on that scroll anymore, this would be a great thing to put on your nine grid.
To go back through your media's most awesome emails and extrapolate it for the Instagram nine grid if you really wanted to.
Oh yeah, I love that. I think I have heard of that, but I've heard of that with highlights. Like using your highlights as your navigation bar for your Instagram.
But I love the idea of the nine grids. If you're like, ‘Okay, I should have a social media presence. Let me just put these nine things up here so that if anyone goes through these nine things, they want to work with me.’
I love how we can extrapolate this idea for whatever platform you wanna be on, but I especially love it for the newsletter.
Is there anything that I didn't ask you that I should have asked that you would have been dying to tell me?
One thing that I encourage people to do if you're thinking about doing an evergreen newsletter or just writing a newsletter in general and talking to your audience via email is giving your people connection points.
Finding ways to help them connect with you as a person beyond just what you help them with. It helps to build that know, like, and trust.
But sometimes it can be difficult to talk about yourself. So I heard this from Merel Kriegsman. She said, “Come up with a list of things, like your credibility markers.”
And so I kind of think about it as, ‘What are my people gonna connect with me on and what makes me credible?’ And I just wrote a whole list of things.
Like the fact that I'm doing a business and being a professor. I won a teaching award. I got promoted early, just listing all of those things.
So I have that up when I'm writing my emails. And so I can be, “Oh, I can put this in here.” so you don't forget about them.
I love that. Because it's like breathing to you. You don't even think about those things. It's just your life, right?
You don't even think that’s special stuff. The other thing I could add to that is a list of personal things that are non-negotiable that you will not talk about.
Like some people will never talk about their children. Some people will never talk about politics, and then a list of the personal things that are available for public consumption and just having those really clear in front of you.
You know what, as you're talking, I'm thinking, ‘What do I do?’ And I wind up talking about how I used to teach high school and college all the time, because it's just part of my DNA, but it also informs how I operate in my business too, and what I'm good at in my business.
But I think until we examine it, we don't quite know that, “Oh, that's special and we need to talk about it.”
So thank you for bringing that up. That was an awesome point, thank you. Toyin, how can people get into your world? Most of my people are entrepreneurs, so where are they gonna find you?
You can find me on Instagram. I don't post that much, but you can start there @DrToyinAlli. I talk a lot about creating self-hosted learning experiences.
So for academics who are teaching their classes in their universities, but they're really called to talk about other things that are outside of the scope of their classrooms, they can create online learning experiences that are hosted by themselves.
And so that's something we in the entrepreneurship world know all about, but for some reason, academics are not involved. I'm like, “You are trained for this.”
They are and they don't even realize it. And it's kind of anathema to them because they're like, ‘This is outside of the four walls.’ Like they just can't even believe that this is possible for them. I love that.
Exactly. And I also talk about doing things efficiently. I talk about a semester-proof business, how you can run your business on five hours a week or less. So yeah.
Do you have an opt-in that people can get onto this evergreen newsletter of yours?
I do. I have a special audio guide so you can listen to it as a podcast and, and it walks through the whole evergreen newsletter.
So if you want to dive deeper into evergreen newsletter, check out the audio podcast or the audio guide.
Awesome. I will put the link to that in the show notes. I've listened to that because I had access to it. You were participating in a summit or a bundle then I must have grabbed it then.
Yeah, thank you. It was for Laura Belgrade's launch.
That's right. Yes. So I've listened to it.
I just want to say thank you because this was not only fun and I think we meandered around. I hope the listeners can follow where I took us today, but I just love talking about this topic and it's got me thinking about how to take all of those years of content I have and put them to use again for any new followers.
So thank you, Toyin. You're awesome.
Yeah, thank you so much for having me. This was great.