GE 279: How Atomic Habits Author James Clear Went from 0 to 450K Email Subscribers in Just 5 Years With James Clear

Hey everyone! In today’s episode, I share the mic with James Clear, author of the Atomic Habits blog post (among many others), as well as author of the Atomic Habits book.

Tune in to hear James share how he grew his email list to 450K over the years, why he chose the title Atomic Habits, and various ways he enforces habits into his life to stay successful.

Time-Stamped Show Notes:

  • [00:38] Before we jump into today’s interview, please rate, review, and subscribe to the Growth Everywhere Podcast!
  • [02:10] James would describe himself as an Author who is focused on habits, decision making,  and continuous self-improvement. He has other unrelated interests beyond this where he experiments with his ideas.
  • [03:10] His blog get 1.5-2 Million visitors per month and 450,000 people on the email list.
  • [03:30] He cut people from the list just to keep it tighter and make sure the only people on the list were engaging with the content.
  • [04:27] James’s website launched in November 2012 and he vowed to write a new article every Monday and Thursday. He kept that pace for the first three years.
  • [05:00] Content is important and made 95% of the difference to sticking with his plan.
  • [05:32] Design is another important aspect of the site.
  • [06:06] If your conversions are under 2%, you need to improve your design and content.
  • [06:45] He sticks to one call-to-action per page.
  • [07:03] His site’s design is minimal, so the content is the most important part.
  • [07:20] Social traffic is important.
  • [07:40] Search traffic has been a more slow burn.
  • [07:54] Partnerships are key.
  • [08:10] Even though they don’t get a lot of raw traffic from partnerships, the conversion rate is higher.
  • [09:52] James has four or five different revenue streams (publishing being one of them).
  • [10:08] The Habits Academy is another revenue stream. 10,000 people have taken these courses.
  • [10:45] He uses Amazon affiliate marketing.
  • [11:05] They’ve experimented with ads, but James hates them.
  • [11:20] He likes that this helps everyone contribute monetarily, but he doesn’t like the experience.
  • [12:25] The first speaking event he did, he made $500, then he raised his fee to $1000 thereafter.
  • [13:10] He kept raising his rate and now he charges $10,000-20,000 per event.
  • [13:57] He finds everything is tied to whether a new article was posted that week.
  • [14:55] The first year, his email list went from 0 to 30,000 subscribers.
  • [15:10] In the fifth year, he now has around 450,000 subscribers.
  • [16:08] You need to add 5000 people per day to net more than that per week.
  • [16:23] After an interview on CBS, they got 11,000 new subscribers.
  • [17:20] James chose the title Atomic Habits, because Atomic means tiny or small and habits should be easy to achieve.
  • [17:41] It also means that habits are the atoms of our lives.
  • [18:30] Atomic is also a type of power.
  • [19:22] James structured his book around the four laws of behavior change.
  • [19:45] He tries to give specific examples of habits and what they can help to build.
  • [20:18] One of his examples was based around working flossing into his daily routine.
  • [23:50] The decisive moment is the turning point where something does or doesn’t happen.
  • [24:11] This could determine the next few hours or days of your life.
  • [25:10] James sets up morning rituals so that his day is more successful.
  • [25:35] He also tries to “prime his environment”.
  • [25:50] He primes his writing environment by having an idea in mind before he sits down to write.
  • [26:58] James puts habits into two categories.
  • [27:00] The first category encompasses more fundamental habits you don’t have to think about.
  • [27:24] The second category involves setting up more complex processes because they are bigger, more involved tasks or habits.
  • [29:13] He likes to compile an integrity report, where he asks three questions.
  • [29:15] Q1: What are my core values and principles? Q2: How has he lived by those values?
  • Q3: How did he not live by those values?
  • [30:47] If you go to his website you will see his annual reviews/integrity reports.
  • [31:15] If you took a dictator and gave them a U.S. Government job, it would be the same person, but they would be unable to operate in the same way. Supposedly, the system would not allow it.
  • [31:45] He believes our democracy and design of our country is more important than who is in charge at any given time.
  • [34:12] James believe decision making and habits pair really nicely together. “Your decisions set the trajectory that is available to you.”
  • [35:20] Mental models are a good frame for viewing the world. If you increase the number of lenses you have, you have different ways to look at the world.
  • [36:20] Travel can provide shifts in perspective, but you need to have really good entry points into the culture. For James, photography is one of those entry points.
  • [36:45] Food is another great entry point and is more universal.
  • [37:45] One tool James finds useful and has used the most in the last year is a notebook.
  • [37:56] He created his own manual habit-tracker.
  • [40:00] The cardinal rule of behavior change is: behaviors that get immediately rewarded, get repeated, while behaviors that get immediately punished are avoided.
  • [40:35] James recommends the books Manual for Living and The Lessons of History.

Resources from the interview:

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