SAVE YOUR SANITY: Stephen Gordon

I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed speaking with Stephen Gordon from Email Marketing Superstars for this week’s instalment of the Save Your Sanity series. I’ve been following him for a while through our mutual presences in Facebook Groups like Flodesk Insiders, and I couldn’t NOT ask him to come and share his wisdom with us as part of the series. How lucky we were that he agreed, and shared some absolute gems that are just the tippest tip of the iceberg that is automation.

You can go down some pretty crazy rabbit holes with automation, but your business and your life will be better off when you figure out which jobs you can get rid of, and how to get your gadgets to pitch in.

Stephen’s Top 5 tools for starting your automation journey?

  1. Google Sheets

  2. Flodesk

  3. Zapier

  4. Any mind mapping tool you like (for visualisation of your processes)

  5. Grammarly

If you’d like to know more, and get inside that great big brain of Stephen’s you can jump onto his website over at Email Marketing Superstars. He’s started a membership for all of us to join him on the automation journey and absorb all the information he shares as we go along…


Lizzie: 0:00

Good morning everyone. Hello welcome back to the Save Your Sanity series and the series for saving time and getting your shit done. And today we have a very very special guest who is a super-duper amazing expert in all things automation. We have Stephen Gordon with us from Email Marketing Superstars! Hi Stephen!

Stephen: 0:37

Hello Lizzie, thanks for inviting me along today I really appreciate it.

Lizzie: 0:41

Thanks for coming. I think I’m a little fan girl over here so I’m really excited to see what you have to share with us. Do you want to start by telling us a bit about yourself, your background and how you ended up being a superstar with emails and the automation and everything.

Stephen: 0:58

Yeah absolutely. So up until about just over five years ago and I was a part of the management team for a company called Caterpillar. Those are the folks who made the makes big diggers and the all the sort of big huge vehicles like that. And I had a great time at Caterpillar, they’re an absolutely fantastic company, but I reached the stage where it was a kind of tapped out. You know, I was doing what I was gonna do. I was probably gonna do that for the foreseeable future, and it wasn’t really that exciting. So I took an opportunity to say okay so I sat down with my family and said you know, I wanna  try something else I don’t wanna do, I don’t wanna commit to work anymore.  You know, I wanna try something different. And the thing that I wanted to try differently was, I wanted to write novels. I wanted to be an author. And ah, you know, my whole family got around me and said well okay, you know you can go and do this and hey if this doesn’t work out, you can go back and do what you are being before. Maybe with a different company. So, I took year out and tried to write a novel and it was quite frankly bloody awful. Because it turns, it turns out that writing novels is really hard.

Lizzie: 2:18

It’s tricky right?

Stephen: 2:20

Um.. Yeah very. And and uh the other thing it turns out is that, no one pays you to write a novel. They’’ll pay to read a great novel but they won’t pay to write one. And that’s when I kind a felt like I’m enjoying this, and I need to get better at it. But I also need to do something that is gonna start bringing in, uh its gonna start paying the bills. Again, like a lot of other folks who have gone out freelancing. And so, I went back and pulled on the experience I had when I was working for Caterpillar and one of those things I was involved in was the technical side of marketing. So, you know I was the guy that made sure all the, all the marketing systems ran. And I started doing that for myself.  Getting more involved with the creative. Um as I started doing that,  you know, and I know not everyone on you know who’s watching is going to be a marketer, but for those that aren’t, I can actually it kind of doesn’t matter. Anyone who strikes up on their own as a freelancer. I think there’s always out that temptation and to try to be the jack of all trades, you try to do everything.

Lizzie: 3:27


Stephen: 3:28

And I, and I tried to be the marketing expert of everything. I would I would build you a web page, I would set your email marketing, I would do coding, I would do everything and I was getting burnt out for not a lot of money. And then after a period of time I started nicheing down, and nicheing down. I got quite strict with myself and said okay so, what are the pieces that you enjoy, and you know I’m not overly artistic in in terms of aesthetics and visuals. Um so, you know I, I understand the concepts of topography and padding and white space and web pages. But, it’s not something that I enjoy an awful lot. So, I started nicheing and nicheing and nicheing down to my focus then became words and data. And I enjoyed that so email marketing and building sales funnels which were email marketing centric obviously became the sort of natural, the natural resting place for me.

Lizzie: 4:25

Yes, I was just looking at your website there and it looks. The simplest the wrong words but it’s very clear what you do and that you enjoy it. But there’s all these other, these other things happening in the background aren’t there, it’s not just that you write emails that you, you find a way to make things work for you. Don’t you?

Stephen: 4:48

Yeah so, this was something which I learned early on. Was there was so much to be done, you know all of a sudden things which I have teams of people to do for me, I had to do, and I mean it was like, um a within the first few months it was a huge shock when I found out, ah I don’t know what you guys call it over there, we call it month end, period end.

Lizzie: 5:11

Oh, Yeah. End of month, same idea. Yeah.

Stephen: 5:14

Yeah and, and all of a sudden, I had an accountant saying; hey dude we need to do your month end and I was like; don’t don’t you do that, he went no, this is a this is a collaboration. And it was lots of little things and that was what kind of gave me the, the sort of kick up the backside to say,  you know you go you’re gonna have to go and hire people which to be honest with you I was reluctant to do I didn’t wanna go out, and hire va’s or hire staff. Not because I have an issue delegating, but one of the big reasons why I wanted ot stike out my own was, if there was a day that I didn’t wanna work, I wanted just to be able to close my laptop and go and take some time for myself. But, I I got to the point where I wanted to get stuff done but I didn’t wanna have to go out and go through the process of hiring and management. And that’s what started me getting involved in looking at, look how can I automate my business. And like a lot of other people when I first started looking at it, it just drowns you. Um I mean, never ever, never ever go on to a Facebook group or a forum board or anything like that and say; ‘hey where should I start, uh automating my business?’  Because you’ll just get drowned, you will just get inundated. You know I had some really well-meaning people from my former employment, uh who were process management experts and they came along and gave me these fantastically complicated spreadsheets and I just had to go and get a degree to figure out what half of them meant. I had other people come along and offer to sell me really expensive courses, that show me how to do it,  you know everything in between. But the, the reality is that, you know even if you and I were in exactly in the same business, we would run it totally differently. Um I.

Lizzie: 7:08

Yeah. You’d run it well, of course.

Stephen: 7:12

You know it’s, the the problem with automating a business is, again it’s that we’re people, we’re complicated.

There are there are people out there who don’t enjoy the stuff that I enjoy and vice versa. I mean I will I will spend a day happily working on a piece of coy. But I will do everything I can to procrastinate away from building a sales page. I will do everything I can do to avoid that. And that that was kind a like a light switch for moment for me, about starting to get serious about automating my business. I get rid of all the complicated stuff and said okay of all the things that you do, ask yourself two questions. Does it have to be done? You know so like my month ends my mountains have got to be done. Otherwise the tax man’s gonna fall out with me and I’m never winning a fight against him. Never. And so, it was does this task have to be done,  which is an interesting question on its own but we’ll talk about that later if we have time. The second question was, do I enjoy this task? And honestly that just, that just lit me up like a Christmas tree, because it was hey you know I, I have to do this, I’ve committed to doing this but I don’t enjoy it. And they, but again the sort of the unofficial third rule that I’ve got in place was, what is the simplest way to solve this problem? So, my problem was, I was just getting killed for reporting and you look I can almost hear some of the other people that are watching this right now screaming the answer, going come on dude it’s obvious. And the answer that I was able to take everything and funnel it towards Google Analytics. And so, it wasn’t a case needing to build anything. The simple answer was to go out and look for something that was already there. And the tool was already there, it was Google Analytics which up to that point it was just hey that’s, that’s that page that I pretend to look at now and again see how well a website’s doing, but unless someone’s paying me to I don’t.

Lizzie: 9:20


Stephen: 9:21

And then I, I fell heavy into Google Analytics. Found out all the customization options, how to link other things into it, especially email marketing results. So, I was able to start funneling open rates, click rates, uh click through rates, conversions. I was able to start plugging all that in and configuring Google Analytics with specific dashboards and views. Um, which initially I got excited, because I was then sitting down on a Friday and going hey, I’ve automated my reporting. But I’m still sending out an email saying, hey your weekly report is here.

Lizzie: 10:00

Are you about halfway along the automation journey at that point?

Stephen: 10:06

Yes.  And I was like, okay. So, I’m almost there and I was quite happy with that for a few months and then you know Google gets, go gets a bad reputation sometimes. You know and everyone mocks their original, uh their, their original mantra of, don’t be evil. But then six months later Google released the ability to, to schedule emails.

Lizzie: 10:31

Right. Oh yeah.

Stephen: 10:33

And you could, and you could build them inside Google Analytics. Which I did. Uh, you know for thirty, forty clients, it was just Hey every Friday, it started jetting them off. And this was the one that I loved the most, I had three clients specifically who even after I’d got the automated reports set up. And they were crystal clear. I’d work with everyone to say what views do you need they would still come back and say, I want this, I need to know this, I need to know this sooner. So, I just scheduled it so they got daily reports from Google. It was amazing. But then someone would come back and say I missed custom reports and I was like, hey you know I can, I can set those up for you but it’s gonna be a small monthly fee. Um and again, you know I have clients who I haven’t done physical work for, uh in two or three years and I’m still picking up you know, … I’m not gonna be retiring on it anytime soon, but it all tops up each month and all that’s happening is that the custom Google Analytics dashboard that I built for them. Google’s emailing them, uh that report once a week and it just makes my life easier.

Lizzie: 11:40

 Well yeah. And their’s, so like it’s, it’s a valuable service. Even you’re not physically doing anything, it’s your, it’s your expertise they’re paying for really in the end isn’t it?

Stephen: 11:51

Yeah, I mean and that was the introduction the automation.

Lizzie: 11:55


Stephen: 11:56

Because again, it’s finding those tools and it was. Once it started um, I couldn’t really stop, it was okay so what’s next. What I found I was doing was, um I’ve always got one of these with me, I’ve always got a notebook and it’s always somewhere around me. And I went through a period of time where I was writing down everything, I did every day. Uh, quite obsessively for about a month and what I found was I was then going back and I was circling the common tasks. And I was looking at those tasks again and going; ‘do I have to this?’, ‘do I enjoy doing it?’ and you know if, if it was you know, yes I have to do it, no I don’t really enjoy it. Okay so are the, what’s the simplest way of automating this. Um, and the next one was onboarding new clients. And I started looking at my services and I started looking at okay. So, when someone comes on, I need this and at the time I was working heavily with Google Ads and Facebook Ads, that was kind a like my main focus at the time. And the huge problems are in that were getting permissions for everything. Hey, before I can do anything, um you know I need access into your Facebook Ads account, I need access into your Google Ads account or what tended to happen was, someone came back and went, I don’t have either of those things, can you show me how to set it up? And that was a day, that was a day gone. Uh, for an account which maybe lasted a month sometimes, which was a pain. Um so, again that was what I learned there was, uh the joys of automating onboarding sequences. And once I cracked it for myself, I was then going out to some of my clients and going in conversations with them and saying, oh you know I’ve done this pretty cool thing. And that’s can you do it for us? You know we, you know we spent a lot of time on boarding the clients, and the uh that was where I was really plunged heavily into email marketing. Because email marketing is just built for onboarding clients, you know. And you know, I mean for me, onboarding a client starts as soon as someone hands over their credit card details and they’ve made a payment, that’s it we’ve got to start looking after you. Like you are the chosen one.

Lizzie: 14:16


Stephen: 14:17

And it’s, it’s you know, I don’t mind onboarding customers it was something which kind I enjoyed. Um, but when I picked my first retail client, that kind of brought it home to me was no matter how much you enjoy, um you know onboarding new customers getting to know customers, you can’t consistently do it 24/7. Because, you know someone, someone doesn’t you know if someone buys a product of you at 10 o’clock at night, um they are not  happy waiting until you know you log on and get all the tasks out of the way and you get the 1 pm, which is your scheduled time to do onboarding. They want action there and then. Which is where I got all the fun with uh, email marketing sequences and people say hey, you know well I’ve got that, I’ve got that set up. Um, you know on Mailchimp for example, hey when someone buys something from my store, you know Mailchimp goes out and puts them onto my newsletter, um or you know when someone says hey you know I run an online course. When someone buys it from me, I send them an email. You know and it tells them how to log into, you know the, the online course tool whichever one they’re using. And those are okay, those are basic onboarding sequences, but as I started working doing you know my own online stuff and working with others. What I was finding was, you’re still spending so much time answering people’s questions. Hey, I need to reset my password, hey I need to do this, how do I do this, where do I find the lessons, um hey I’ve ordered you know my lovely new shiny camera has been delivered, but I don’t know how to use it. Uh, you know all these things just went on and on. And it was a waste, because you know automating, you know getting a really nice onboarding sequence, someone gets all those warm fuzzies so they’ll come along and say hey, you know I, I took now I took Lizzie’s course and it was amazing and it was really enjoyable and it’s changed my business. But we don’t get that if someone buys your course in January and then just forgets about it because it was an impulse buy and life takes over and they never get around to doing it, which means you’re losing the opportunity of that person buying from you again. And even better going out and telling all, all their friends, hey this stuff is awesome. You know, work with this person, this is fantastic. Um, and doing that consistently is difficult, but doing it with the two tools I find amazing for onboarding, are uh email marketing services, like Mailchimp, uh like Flodesk which is kind a like hot new email marketing system at the moment.

Lizzie: 16:56

It’s good. It’s very good.

Stephen: 17:00

And its um, I know it’s a completely different topic, but they are they’re really disrupting the marketplace with this approach of, hey you pay one fee every month.

Lizzie: 17:09


Stephen: 17:10

And you can have unlimited subscribers, unlimited emails. And all the other companies are starting to get a little bit nervous about this because, they thought you can’t do that, but you can’t do that. Well it turns out that you can and maybe you guys have been taking too much money off us.

Lizzie: 17:24

It’s true though, you know like.

Stephen: 17:28

Yeah. I’m using these tools like Flodesk, to build up these nice sequences and you can get clever with them and you can say, hey you know if somebody does this, you know if somebody doesn’t log into the course within 24 hours. You know I want them to do this or if they click this email, do that and you can get really nice complicated. Uh by the way it’s gonna drive people crazy and there will be comments saying, can you tell that guy stop waving his hands around.

Lizzie: 17:53

I’m enjoying it. You’re excited, it’s good.

Stephen: 18: 01

I mean it’s the reason why I get excited about this stuff is, it takes a bit of time to set up, you know a nice onboarding sequence. You know so hey, you know someone joins a new course and they get the, you know they get the welcome and they get the video welcome it says, hi thanks for coming on to the course. But then, they start getting, you know a daily motivational email that says, hey you know this and you know benefits emails. And one of the big mistakes of people are making, is that they try to use that onboarding sequence to immediately sell something else. Whereas the huge benefit because, this is the joyful thing about automation, there’s no time limit. You know it’s, you can relax, you can you can nurture someone through and validate their purchase. And help them explore everything and realize all the, all the benefits of that purchase and then gently nudge them into, hey you know here’s um, here’s some affiliate options I think you might like, you know here’s all the products that I use. Because you’ve built up that trust nice.

Lizzie: 19:04

So, it’s doing the work just the once and then it’s there forever. You know so.

Stephen: 19:10

Over and over and over again.

Lizzie: 19:11

Yeah. So, there’s a learning curve there. Um and it’s maybe worth… so, your argument basically is that it’s worth making the time for. Because you’ve then done it forever.

Stephen: 19:24

Yes. I mean it’s, play into your natural strengths. So, for me I’m quite happy sitting down and writing my email sequences. I love it.  Quite happy to do it you know and I always start them simple. So, I mean a good example is uh, I have set up a brand-new membership program. Got to get a plug for that in.

Lizzie: 19:44

Oh yeah.

Stephen: 19:45

A little membership program and the email sequence is the onboarding the sequences. You know it’s running at 100 miles an hour to try and get everything done. And the first version of the email sequences, there’s about 14 in the sequence. Um and they’re short. Um, you know and some of them are just you know a couple of one-liners, just enough to get by, but they will grow and build and they’ll build into different emails and different sequences. Because this has kind of become the focus for me for the next few years at least.

Lizzie: 20:15


Stephen: 20:16

Because I’ve realised that, you know. Email marketing is so much more than what a lot of, you know other people out there are teaching. There’s a lot more that can be done with it, there’s a lot of automation can be brought into it, so that you can set these things up and let them run.

Um and bringing all that together. Um and it’s you can keep that learning curve to a minimum so, you know I’ve already mentioned Flodesk, but it’s a, it’s a great example because one of the nice things about it is, the UX, the user experience on it is really good. Um, they made that focus, uh while they expand out other features.

Um, so the learning curve, to automate through that is, is minimal. Um and then letting your, your preferences. So, again I’m words and data, one of the other automation tools that I love using are chat bots. I love intelligent chat bots; I’ll quite happily build those things like crazy. And they are amazing for pre-sales and post-sales. And again, I have, um you know I, I get reports again automate it, the bots will come back and tell me, hey someone’s asked me a question I don’t understand can you educate me on the answer.

Lizzie: 21:31

It saved you saved you from responding to a lot of emails that have like similar themes then in theory.

Stephen: 21:36

Yes. Uh, because I again, you know your business and the people watch this would know their business.

And there’s uh, some great stuff that I’ve heard that everyone says, every business always boils down to ten questions. You will get asked the same ten questions, but just in a different way. And I mocked this for quite a long time, until I started doing my own things. And I was able to give it the thought and go, my goodness they we’re right. There’s like ten questions. Um, you know I, I worked heavily with the beauty industry for quite few years. And you know it was the same ten questions, you know it was; hey, can I cancel, uh what time are you open, how much does it cost. You it was the same ten questions and this was across different uh, different niches inside the beauty industry.

Um so, yeah it always boils down to ten questions.

Lizzie: 22: 30

So, chatbots are the way of the future, it’s definitely something I’ve looked at. But then again when, oh I’m going to have to learn this uh, I don’t have, it’s more than an afternoon’s worth of work uh I’ll do that later. So, knuckle down, get on with it is basically the point.

Stephen: 22:48

Yeah. I’m it’s again, the other sort of the golden rule with automation, is you know, start the things that have to be done that you don’t enjoy doing and start small. I  mean yes, there are some really nice tools out there that um so for example, if someone goes to my website and they want to you know book my services directly, which I do less of these days, because I focus more on building out the course, building out the membership program. They will go I use the tool called, Book Like a Boss. They’ll book that and then Book Like a Boss will go and contact. Uh, I’ve told it to go and contact Flodesk and send out an email that asks a bunch of questions. And then when they respond those questions, I have a different program that picks out those, those up, parses the email out, puts it into a spreadsheet and opens up a client specific folder in Google Docs and it does all this. You know I will wake up some morning and I essentially have. Okay yeah, still a little bit old-fashioned, I’ll wake up in the mornings and I have a uh a print out of my calendar for the day sitting, waiting for me. So, I just picked that up and you know, I’m drinking my tea and going okay, so this is what I have to do today.

Lizzie: 24:00

What’s old-fashioned about that, so wait. Like you’ve, you’ve got your system automated, so that something prints for you in the morning?

Stephen: 24:09

Oh yeah! Um, because as as, as wonderful as these devices are. I, whenever I was living just on this, I was missing appointments all day long. And it was embarrassing and it was frustrating for clients. And again, it was one of those things you know, it’s I have to have meetings but I hate missing them, I find it quite stressful. And I find I was checking my phone all the time and it was distracting, that from me and for those around me. Whereas in the morning, I wake up and my printer is sitting there and I just lift it up and it’s just, I should actually have one handy. But I sort of I, I recycle at the end of every day, um and it’s just uh, it’s a print out from my uh, from my Google Calendar and it has all my appointments listed for the day. And as I go through them, I just strike them off and it keeps me on time.

Lizzie: 24:58

Fantastic. I do look. This is witchcraft you’re talking about, witchcraft. You’re telling your thing, your gadgets what to do, you’re making your printer print, like and beyond. Yeah, the emails, I think most of us have an idea that emails can be automated but, it’s all the stuff around it. You know like, yeah, getting your clients to where they need to be. And getting yourself like making appointments. All of it, it’s just it’s, an overwhelming task and it sounds like it can be simple if you let it.

Stephen: 25:37

It’s to be honest with you, it’s the motivation. Um, again the, the two things that kind of everyone struggles with initially, is I don’t know where to start, because you know, you say automation and people go, it’s going to be complicated and I’m not gonna like it and I don’t know where to start. But whenever you reframe the question and you say, okay so, you know, does it have to be done and do you enjoy it. And if it has to be done. You don’t like it; it becomes a great a motivation to go and get it done and start looking for solutions. And the nice thing is that we’re never as unique as we like to think we are. So, whenever you’re going out into, I mean there’s various groups out there, you know for automation and specific automation tools like, Zapier and things like that. Whenever you’re going out, if you ask the specific question, hey I have to do this and I don’t enjoy it, how do I automate it. You will get an abundance of ideas, it switched from overwhelming to… someone, will turn around and especially uh the, the leading automation tool in the world right now is a tool called Zapier.  And what Zapier essentially does is it says, hey if this and you know the example I gave you earlier, if Book Like a Boss gets a new booking for you, then tell Flodesk to send out the sequence of emails. And [Zapier] one thing how to talk like another or talk to another and automate it. And you will find that, if you get it clear in your head, this is what I have to do but I really don’t like doing it and you express that in some of these groups. I mean, in the Flodesk group, in your own Facebook group. You know if go in to these groups and you say, hey how do I automate this, there’s a 50/50 chance someone’s gonna come along and say, hey I’ve already built this out for that, let me share it with you.

And the learning curve is gone, and all you’re left to do is just connect, and it’s secure and it’s fantastic. And I’m not proud I mean I’ve taken recipes off other people who have said hey I’ve built this and they’ve shared it with me and I’ve just plugged in my details and bang it’s, it’s up and running in minutes. We’re not as unique, as we like to think we are.

Lizzie: 27:54

No, you’re right, or yeah, an original and yeah like. Why would you go through the process of starting it all over again if somebody’s has already done all the work for you that’s fabulous. Ooh, now I’ve got a new thing to go do today. That’s gonna be great.

Stephen: 28:14

So, haven’t told you about my favorite automation yet.

Lizzie: 28:16

You haven’t. Oh my goodness! There’s more! All right, fire away!

Stephen: 28:21

This is this is this is the absolute final one. Uh, I can almost promise you this is gonna be universally loved. So, something which has to be done, is we’ve all got a vacuum. We’ve all gotta do it, you know, and especially if you’re like me and you just, kind of, you know, I’ve got, I’ve got two dogs, and one is a rough-haired Border Collie and you know he just likes casting hair everywhere. And I obviously have to Hoover. I obviously have to vacuum, but I really don’t like doing, I don’t think anyone does. So, again using that using that process. I just wanted to involve one of those little robot vacuums and it is the best thing in the world ever.

Lizzie: 29:05

I’ll bet! did you. Have you have you got some kind of witchcrafty thing for that as well when.

Stephen: 29:13

Oh yeah, it’s wow my phone is set.

Lizzie: 29:17

Oh my goodness.

Stephen: 29:18

I’m on a certain schedule that you know after a certain period of time at night so usually at 6pm at night I shut down everything digitally I don’t get involved, it’s my way of letting the world you know escape my brain and winding down and then, when I when when I head up the stairs. I take my phone up because you know I’ve got a, I’ve got a young family out there and I like to be able to get you know I like them to be able to get in touch with me if they need to. Yeah, but the, it’s all set up so that the vacuum knows we’ve gone upstairs and then that’s when it comes out cleaning for it.

Lizzie: 29:54

Come on. That’s, that’s… Scary how good that is, it’s so great because then you come down in the morning and your house is pristine just say thanks robot vacuum. And that’s the end of it.

Stephen: 30:08

That’s that’s the power of automation it’s, it’s those two golden rules, it doesn’t matter what it is, do I have to do it. Do I enjoy it. And if the answer is yes it has to be done and no I don’t enjoy it. It is a prime candidate for automation. And it’s when you’re then getting out to the Facebook groups and asking the the question saying how do I do this, and then just plucking out that answer out of the air that fits you the best, and you’re gone, and it doesn’t matter what you do, and you can automate.

Lizzie: 30:39


I’ve got a lot of work to do. I think to put all these like I can see the, the benefit of it because yeah once, once you’ve got that all under control, then all you need to do is just live your life which sounds really really good because yeah at the moment I’m keeping all this information in my head about where I need to be what I need to do what work I’ve got on bah bah bah bah bah, and you could just not do that by the sounds of it.

Stephen: 31:11

Yeah look it’s there’s stuff I, you know, as I said before Fridays used to be reporting days well Friday isn’t reporting days anymore. Friday is writing book days.

Lizzie: 31:22


Stephen: 31:23

I’m now able to shedule days where I do this stuff which I enjoy. I enjoy, you know, building out processes building out automations and now, it’s, I turned out that I really enjoy showing other people, you know how to build out sales funnels and their email marketing funnels and throwing little you know peppering that with automation to make it easier. You know, so I do that, I do you know I do that in the afternoons but in the mornings and on Fridays, I write my novels. And it’s a, it’s a really nice place to be.

Lizzie: 31:54

I’ll bet, yeah.

Stephen: 31:56

Automate the things you don’t want to do because you know they’re just not worth doing if you can automate them.

Lizzie: 32:02

No no well if there’s someone else or something else. Able to do it for you why why why would you do it. Yeah, that. Yep. Solid point. Well, made. So, could we sum up just at list of your top five tools. Do you think you could do that?

Stephen: 32:23

Top five, top five tools. Absolutely. Number one has got to be Google Sheets. As you start exploring the world of automation. Everything comes back to Google Sheets because it’s, it’s not the most sophisticated way to solve a problem sometimes, but it works. I just have hundreds of Google Sheets just running my business. If those things ever break, if Google ever says hey we’re not going to have Google Sheets anymore. Me and a lot of other automators have some serious thinking to do. So, definitely Google Sheets is right up there, number one. Number two, it’s gonna be Flodesk. Flodesk is, my email marketing tool of choice at the moment. I’m finding that when I do take client work on my focus tends to be on creatives and freelancers and entrepreneurs. You know folks who you know I’m that nice place at the moment where I can pick and choose who I work with, and it tends to be. That sounds pretty cool. I’d like to work with you. And sometimes it’s a nightmare but it’s always interesting. So Flodesk is a, it’s a really nice email marketing tool it’s not as powerful yet as some of the others, but to be honest with you, a lot of that, a lot of that power right there, people come along and say, Hey, I need to tag this and I need to advance conditional statements, and all these other things, and they don’t you just don’t need it. It’s easier to step away from that so flodesk is amazing at the minute. The third one I recommend it’s Zapier is the is the is the king of all automation tools. It’s nice at the moment, and there are some new tools coming out. India has turned into has been for a while but it’s really coming to the forefront now. India is this real hotbed of software and on SaaS service development, and they’re bringing in some tools which are challenging things which have been entrenched for so long so Zapier has been the automation tool for so long. There’s recently been two new tools, Pabbly and Integrately, which is unfortunately named. Just relate yes it’s just like goodness guys you know like Pabbly but Itegrately it doesn’t roll off the tongue.

Lizzie: 34:48

Really no it doesn’t.

Stephen: 34:52

There, there two newcomers who are taking a slightly different approach to Zapier but one of their the, the unique sound proposition from both is they are significantly cheaper and I mean a lot cheaper. And so, you know, tools like Zapier Pabbly, Integromat is kind of one of the other, you know, solid automation tools. What I recommend is picking one Zapier is a good place to start. There’s lots of documentation and then you can grow out from there. So that’s Google Sheets. Flodesk, Zapier. What else can I can’t live without. Oh, yes. Any mind mapping tool that you are comfortable with. So, one of the next states when someone says, Hey, I have had enough. I know I have to do this but I don’t want to do it a beautiful way to make that transition from having to do the automation so much simpler is just a map out each of the stages. And again, doesn’t matter the mind map tool I use a tool called markup plan it gives you some nice fancy icons and you connect things and it’s lovely, but it doesn’t matter. You know, pen and paper is absolutely fine. Anything that maps out, so you can then go okay so that’s the leap I need to make. And what is my last one, kind of yeah, spoiled for choice, saying Hey, what’s your top five favorite movies. Oh, no you’re killing me here.

I guess, another tool actually yeah, I I I cannot. As someone who exists, you know, within that words and data. It’s a bit of a toss-up between Google Analytics which I kind of spend a lot of time in, but the tool which I would say I use more than any other is Grammarly.

Lizzie: 36:50

Oh yes. It’s, it is helpful, like it’s not completely foolproof. I think like that failsafe let’s say like you still gotta actually read what you’re writing but Grammarly. Yeah, is good. It’s having that backup. Yeah.

Stephen: 37:11

Some of the folks out there are going to go. But I don’t really get what that has to do with automation, it’s just such a massive time saver. I tend to draw I will, I will draft with my internal editor switched off. Just to get the ideas onto the page. Then I’ll go and look at the structure, and then I just hand it the Grammarly, and just go fix that. You know and take care of it. And then I will do a final read through, but I’d say it removes by 40% of the effort. You know I you know again it’s I have to spellcheck, but I don’t like doing it. So again, this is my way of automating that process so in terms of top five tools, Google Sheets. Get to know I mean, there is so much automation you can do within Google Sheets, alone, and getting to know Google Sheets, is a fantastic way, the start up that automation journey. Let me see… Flodesk. It’s a great email marketing system. The one of the reasons why I love Flodesk so much at the moment is its support processes is fantastic. It’s not just a case of how to send an email. They have an official Facebook group, and they essentially have a dedicated support person just answering all the stuff on on Flodesk. She’s got a great personality she’s so helpful. Her name’s Petra, she is superb and I’m not just saying that because  she’s over in Ireland as well.

Lizzie: 38:40

I didn’t realize that I don’t know why I didn’t, I thought she was somewhere in.. other … Europe.

Stephen: 38:48

That’s what I thought. And by the way, the only reason I knew this is because she’s mentioned it in one of the posts somewhere, I’m not a weird crazy stalker she’s just. Yeah. Third tool is Zapier or any of the other automation tools Zapier is a good choice as I say because it’s so well documented, and it connects with everything. The newer tools. If you don’t have the connections and everything, maybe aren’t as well documented, that’s fine for someone who’s been automating for a while because you can hack your way through it. But if you’re new to Zapier is a lovely hand holding experience and then let’s see with Zapier mind mapping tool again you can’t be visualizing the process, it just makes it simpler. And then Grammarly Grammarly is, you know, I couldn’t not mention Grammarly because it just falls into that category of. It has to be done. I can’t write unprofessional text. But I don’t necessarily enjoy spell checking, I’m not that much of a word nerd. You know, possibly I will be as I get older, but I just don’t have that skill set, and it’s nice to have that backup.

Lizzie: 39:59

Perfect. Yeah and it’s free too which is also a good, well it can be. I only use the free version.

Stephen: 40:04

I’ve got, I’ve gone full pro on it. I need everything. I need to invest the plagiarism checker on it. Has saved my butt so many times.

Lizzie: 40:18


Stephen: 40:19

Because, yeah. I mean I’ve just been writing a piece of text and we sometimes don’t appreciate what we we’re picking up as we’re reading other things. Especially if I’ve got a new topic to read on and I’ve done a lot of research. And I have seemingly unconsciously. Two things have happened, I’ve seemingly unconsciously copied the entire paragraphs, as a reference. And forgotten to take them out but Grammarly has saved me and the other the other place it has saved me, is whenever and I don’t do this anymore. If I had music with lyrics in the background the lyrics made their way to the text. I almost sent 20,000-word technical document to a blue-chip company. That had the chorus of Miley Cyrus’s wrecking ball in there, because that’s what happened to be playing on, on Amazon at the time. Luckily Grammarly picked it up and said, hey we think you’ve plagiarized these lyrics from Miley Cyrus. I was like ohh!

Lizzie: 41:26

There’s not really much coming back from that or explaining it like …. yeah.

Stephen: 41:33

That that’s why Grammarly makes the list and all of it stop spell checking that plagiarism checking. There’s absolutely no way it couldn’t be on the list.

Lizzie: 41:41

No, that’s right. Well I think we have covered so much here. Thank you so so much for your time. Is there anything you want to plug while we’re here you’ve got some amazing courses coming up don’t you, membership?

Stephen: 41:52

Yeah, I mean. The thing I’m focusing on the moment is and it’s a bit of test on myself. Its I’m launching the Email Marketing Superstars’ program. The original intent was for a course, but what I decided to go for was a membership program. Low monthly cost. I mean we’re talking; we’re talking less than Netflix per month. With the theory being that if someone wants to come in and they wanna learn something specific they can come in and learn that. Pause. Go away. Come back again and then that makes that it’s on me to deliver that value each month. To say hey, look at this cool thing, look at this cool thing, look at this cool thing. So, you know and if that’s literally just starting, so it’s a super low price at the moment there’s, there’s a free trial for 14 days. 50% off for life, because again it’s new, all the content’s not there. I’m just starting to drip that stuff in and if you just come to Email Marketing Superstars, by the time this goes out it’s going to be on, it’s going to be the front and center on the website about into the program. Because, that’s where I’m focusing on my time.

Lizzie: 43:07

We’ll all be heading there to figure out how to make our lives easier. Because, everybody wants easier lives and nobody wants to be working around the clock. I think, anyway I don’t. I’ve got, I’ve got a million things else to do. So, thank you so much Stephen for your time today and we really really appreciate it. We can’t wait to see what comes next for, for Stephen Gordon and email marketing superstars.

Stephen: 43:31

Lizzie, thank you very much. Bye!


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