All You Need is Six E-Mails: The R.A.T.G.U.M. Blogging Strategy that Obliterates Writer’s Block

Quick update on the 30K month: I left it in a blog comment but here it is again. The launch of WordPress Crusher (how to make your own WordPress plugins using my fill-in-the-blank PHP templates) made me $6500 in 24 hours, income for the past 4 days is now over $7000 (so I'm very close to hitting my goal for the week).

Three more quick things: the sales letter converted at 16 percent, all I did was send one e-mail & make one forum post, and I'm awesome.

$30,000 is a very significant number for me because it's about what I make per year at my day job, after taxes and deductions.

Speaking of day jobs and numbers, did you ever watch the 1960's TV show The Prisoner? It starred Patrick McGoohan (who just passed away a couple weeks ago) as a spy who quit his day job...

... Only to be abducted minutes later and sent to a remote island which looked like a retirement community. They played mind games on you to figure out why you quit. He never revealed why he quit, because he didn't know if "The Village" was run by the East or the West.

It was the wackiest show ever. They had cordless phones (in the 60's!), cameras hidden in statues, helicopters that flew on autopilot, and mechanical chairs that came out of the floor. Nobody had a name, only numbers. I think maybe four people in all 17 epsiodes actually had names. The main character was Number 6. You never met Number 1, and he hired a new Number 2 to run things every week.

You didn't know who was good or bad.
If you tried to escape, a giant weather balloon chased you.

The Prisoner

Six is a very important number because that's the minimum number of blog posts or follow-ups you need. You know how your prospects need to see your message 7 times on average before they buy? They see your page, that's the first time, then get on your list and get 6 more follow-ups, that makes 7 total.

If all you need is 6 things to tell your subscribers, that's not very hard at all. Think of 6 tips off the top of your head, schedule them as blog posts a couple of weeks apart, you've got a few months of content... you don't have to blow your wad with just one post.

Got a post-sale list to fill? Think of 6 skills they should have learned from your book, and which page number they should be on, then quickly write those 6 e-mails (no longer than 2/3rds of a page each), saying... flip to this page and do this and this. Here's something extra you might not have thought about just from reading the book.

Or, even easier. Share 6 URLs on your niche with them. Go to and type in your keyword, or even look at your own bookmarks and figure out what applies the most... make sure to stick the call-to-action to buy your product in every e-mail.

If you schedule those follow-ups about one week apart, you can just about make it to the end of the refund period AND make it seem like you keep "checking up" on your customers to see if they're ok. Plus it's a chance to upsell them to another time-saving solution they need...

That's what I'm scheduling for the follow-up content for WordPress Crusher... 6 really awesome resources for WordPress plugin developers, I send a quick e-mail and add my two cents in there. Like, did you know that item #3 on this guy's blog post could also be used for this... I bet he didn't think of that. ("He didn't think of that" e-mails and tips are my favorite kind.)

I consider The Prisoner to be one of my favorite TV shows of all time... it was like if "Lost" had aired in the 1960s and was British.

Example of a typical plot: The Village finds Number 12 (guest star), an agent who looks extremely similar to Number 6 (main character). Number 2 (who runs the village) tells Number 12 that his job is to replace Number 6... so that Number 6 comes home and finds Number 12 eating his food, using his shower and so on, so that he will doubt his identity, crack under the pressure, and reveal everything.

Number 12 doesn't do a very good job. Number 6 challenges Number 12 to a fencing match, a soccer game, and so on but Number 6 wins them all. Then... plot twist... it turns out that Number 12 (the infiltrator) is actually the real Number 6! They've already brainwashed him into thinking he is Number 12, on a mission to become Number 6. The "real" Number 6 is really Number 12, and he's working for the baddies trying to brainwash Number 6! Confused yet? Me too... and I love it!

There's another lesson to be learned here. As crazy and creative as this show is, you could really only create two types of episodes for it: one of Number 6's latest attempt to escape, and the Village's latest attempt to brainwash Number 6.

If you think of writing e-mails, sales letters, blog posts, solo ads, and so on, with this "categorized" thinking... it's a lot easier to come up with ideas. I probably shouldn't give this away as a blog post, but here are my categories to come up with content... it's called RAT GUM:

  • Rant: Go on a tangent about something that makes you happy or angry.
  • Affiliate Review: Review someone else's product.
  • Tutorial: Explain how to perform a step-by-step task.
  • Guest Survey: Ask your readers what they think about something.
  • User Feedback: Spin a new blog post based on one of your commenter's suggestions.
  • Monthly Summary: Talk about what you did this month.

I based those categories off of the 65 posts I already have on Now, when it comes time to write that next blog post, it's a lot easier to say... I want to write this kind of post, and THEN think of the idea, than think about the idea from nothingness.

Just as I'm sure when Patrick McGoohan wrote an episode of The Prisoner (he wrote most of them), he first thought about what type of episode he was going to write, before writing it.

Exactly the same as the writers on "Lost" do now... pick a character, decide if it'll be flashback or flashforward, then write. Even in the current episodes where they have changed up the format of the show BIG TIME, they still have to categorize before they do anything.

Just like WordPress Crusher shows you 7 different types of plugins you can create in 20% or less time than it would normally take. If that wasn't enough, gives you real life working WordPress plugins created from those fill-in-the-blank WordPress plugin templates... that do everything from import articles and RSS, give prizes for comments, automate the ten comment rule... and so on...

Be seeing you... make sure to comment below. Do you have a different type of blog post that doesn't fit into the RAT GUM formula?

Filed in: List Building

Comments (29)

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  1. Graham Cox says:

    Hi Robert

    I vaguely remember that show…Patrick McGoohan was pretty cool IIRC!

    16% is an excellent conversion rate, show you have a very loyal and responsive email list. Congratulations!

    Two quick Q’s. Do you split test your salespage? And do you write your own copy?


  2. Robert Plank says:

    1. It embarrasses me to say that I am pretty low-tech for split testing. Most of the time I’ll just do a quick 50-50 split 3 lines of PHP code.

    Generate a random number in PHP, either 0 or 1, and include either PageA.php or PageB.php…

    <?php if (rand(0, 1) == 0 {
    else {

    Then I have one different thing on each page, a slightly different name on the order button, so I can go in and look at the totals in my PayPal CSV dump, then look at my stats and divide each one to see which is the winning conversion rate.

    I’ve never found a split testing script I liked, and I only split test occassionally, so it’s faster for me that way.

    2. Yep, I write my own copy, using either Fast Food Copywriting or Five Minute Copywriting

    If I’m more creative, I use FastFood which takes just under 90 minutes to write the sales letter. If I’m not as creative that day, I go with FiveMinute which takes about 3 iterations until I’m happy with it so it ends up taking 15 minutes to write the copy.

  3. Robert Plank says:


    You’re Crazy!

    Yeah yeah 🙂 Tell me something I haven’t heard before…

  4. Hi, Robert,

    I was very happy to see you offer WordPress Crusher. I’m looking forward to checking it out and writing some killer WP plugins of my own.

    Here’s a question I’ve yet to find a suitable answer to: what’s the fundamental difference between a plugin and a widget? Seems to me there’s a lot of overlap, almost to the point of them being different names for the same thing.



  5. Robert Plank says:

    John, a widget is a block that goes in your WordPress sidebar.

    Just think: widgets = boxes.
    Plugin = the thing that makes the widget go.

    See in the sidebar of my blog how I have stuff like one box for the autoresponder code, one widget to show a search box, one widget to show links, another to show recent posts and so on…

    I can add or take away any number of widgets to that sidebar (by going to Appearance -> Widgets in the Dashboard).

    The plugin is the thingy that makes the widget work. So you upload and activate a plugin, and once it’s activated, then you can go in and add it to the sidebar.

    Say you had a plugin to show the most recent posts on a blog. I’d upload that plugin first, activate it, and then the widget to add a “recent posts” box would appear in my widget area and I could add it to my sidebar above or below any of the other boxes (widgets).

  6. Clive says:

    As a Brit and fellow ‘The Prisoner’ enthusiast I love the post. But never forget: ” I am not a number, I am a free man!”

    I always felt the series should have ended with McGoohan being the mysterious #1 ( much like the #12 episode you mentioned) so he could be given amnesia to ‘test’ his evil system – MwwaaHaHa, MWWWAAAHAAHAAAA!!!

    BTW just getting into your plugins too – nice work!

  7. Robert,

    As someone working hard on building several lists, I wonder if you would mind telling us – in round numbers, rounded to the nearest thousand – how many people make up your list. I ask not out of idle curiosity, but as a back-handed way of goal setting.

    I know that there is a lot of talk about having a responsive list is more important than a big, responsive list…but I don’t see anything wrong with having as a goal a big AND responsive list. (Hey, it’s a goal.)

    WordPress Crusher is a great product. I got in on the first level this time, which makes it the biggest bargain of anything I’ve bought this year – make that the last 12 months.




    Make that ‘more important than a big, UNresponsive list’.

    Sheesh – proofread before clicking, Jonathan…

  9. Robert Plank says:

    As someone working hard on building several lists, I wonder if you would mind telling us – in round numbers, rounded to the nearest thousand – how many people make up your list. I ask not out of idle curiosity, but as a back-handed way of goal setting.

    Total subscribers in all sublists, including duplicates: 11,875

    If we de-duplicate everything… then I have 1831 unique free subscribers and 3356 unique paid subscribers.

    • The average person has bought 2.9 of my products.
    • 193 subscribers have bought at least ten things from me.
    • 508 subscribers have bought at least five things from me.
    • 1433 subscribers have bought at least two things from me.

    Even a list of 200 people is a good goal, as long as they are buyers.

    I always have an opt-in to a free list on my blog for updates, just because there is a lot of lost traffic otherwise… but the real quality subscribers are the people you opt-in after a sale.

    Even someone you get to sign up for an update list after buying a measly $7 product, is going to be way more responsive than a free signup.

  10. Widgets vs. plugins:

    Thanks, Robert, that’s very helpful.

    So, let’s see if I’ve got this straight…

    A plugin is a piece of code that performs some function, but does not display its output. It might have visible input, e.g. your ActionComments plugin.

    A widget is a piece of code that outputs data to the display, typically on the sidebar of a WP theme. The data might come from inside WP or from some outside source or both.


  11. Hamant says:

    Hi Robert

    Reading through your post. That was a memory jogger.
    I am a Brit also and although I never watched the Series here – I used to watch it when I was in Zambia,Gish that was a few years back – I think about 35 years ago.
    Loved it and still remember it.

    I noticed that you said you have not come across an easy to use split tester.
    I have not used one myself either but would like to do so.
    You make the php programming look so simple.
    I came across this Multivariate split testing yesterday and I thought you might be the best guy to check it out and maybe do a review for us all.

    Here is the link

    Thanks again for your great products.


  12. Robert Plank says:

    A plugin is a piece of code that performs some function, but does not display its output. It might have visible input, e.g. your ActionComments plugin.

    A plugin can:

    1. Output anything to WordPress in the header, footer, post content, comment area, etc.

    2. Make a widget box ready to add to your sidebar or even 1000 widgets.

    It doesn’t add it for you, but you can tell people: activate this plugin, and it will make this widget available for you to add to the sidebar.

    (Activate plugin, widgets you’ve coded in it become ready to use… deactivate the plugins, widgets within the plugin go away.)

    3. Get input, like you said with Action Comments.

    4. Add an extra page to your dashboard in the Settings area or other menus.

  13. Chris says:

    Robert, I love your WP blog. Where can I find a template like this one? The layout is great and easy to follow. Thanks.

  14. Robert Plank says:

    Robert, I love your WP blog. Where can I find a template like this one? The layout is great and easy to follow. Thanks.

    Do a Google search for “wordpress glossyblue”

  15. Vince says:

    Hi Robert,
    Hope the following is useful feedback.
    I didn’t buy this time. Why?
    Because apart from the comments motivator, all the others seem to have been available and free for some time.

    Don’t get me wrong, I realise you may have also created these in a template kind of way so we can build our own plugins, but the fact remains that in itself I wasn’t motivated enough to buy this time.

    From your joy with the conversion stats for this, maybe I am the only one that decided as I did, but doubt it.

    Reason being, that WordPress is extremely popular amongst your target audience, so any WP plugin related sales letter would get attention. But likewise, we also know what is already available for free.

    FYI, I’m in your category of more than 5 but less than 10 products bought, so hope you see my comments as constructive.

    Best wishes

  16. Robert Plank says:


    The cheapest article importer I could find cost 50 dollars.
    The only RSS drip feeder I could find cost $45.
    Like you said, the only other comments motivator costs $40.

    There is also no such thing out there like the ten comment rule script, to accelerate posting if you get a lot of comments.

    I’ll admit that there is stuff similar to the twitter button, twitter reposter, call-to-action and post stats plugin… but none of them come with video instructions.

    Thanks for bringing that to my attention, I’ll use these facts to beef up the sales letter.

  17. John Sealey says:

    Hi Robert,

    Love it!

    I remember the show well, you’re as old as I am :o)

    The way you hit that message home about the 7 follow-ups was really creative. What a way to tell the story of why it’s important to follow.

    I think as long as you do the follow ups with honesty and intergrity, you’ll be cooking on gas and the reciever will love ya for it.

    Check Seth Godin on this. (that’s if you haven’t already)

    Stay frosty

    John :o)

  18. Amirol says:

    Hi Robert.

    Just to let you know, I bought your is because I want your “how to” tutorials. I don’t really care whether the plugin is available for free or not.

    The important things is, I get some of your knowledge. 😀

    I’m just an amateur in php programming. So, tutorials from the expert will really helps me.

    Keep up good work!

  19. Robert Plank says:

    Hey Amirol, that’s a good point. I’ve lost count of people who have created videos over the years showing people how to use free programs or free services to accomplish something… and those sold extremely well.

  20. Miguel says:

    Hi Robert,

    Congrats for your blog theme, i love it too, it’s pretty simple and very neat.

    I notice you’ve puted your RSS feeds almost hidden at the very bottom, it’s a deliberated option or a theme conditioning placement?

    Keep it simple and inspired,

    Miguel 🙂

  21. Perry says:


    You could use Google Website Optimizer to test multiple variations of a sales page.

    Or if you want to get more detailed, contact Richard Mouser or David Bullock. They are big into Taguchi multivariate testing. David taught Richard. They are both great people and great resources.

  22. Robert Plank says:

    I guess that’s true Perry but doesn’t all your traffic have to come from AdWords for it to work?

    I’m not big into multivariate, I’d rather just do a simple A-B split.

  23. Phil Rogers says:

    The 6 emails concept really brings things into focus for me. I was always a bit concerned about what to put into my Autoresponder sequences. Now I realise that it doesn’t have to go on much further than 6 items.

    We still get The Prisoner re-runs from time-to-time in the UK.
    It was filmed in a real village in Wales, called Portmeirion.
    People do live there, although many of the properties are rented out as holiday homes now.

    Take a look on Google Earth. Copy this Lat & Long into the search bar:
    52 54′ 48.55″N 4 05′ 54.55″W

  24. Tim Linden says:

    WOW. I printed WordPress Crusher out and I’m drooling over it. Just the Ten Comment Rule Plugin was worth the price! LOL I don’t know if you offer that anywhere else but I thought you were hitting publish whenever the comments reached 10, which I tried to copy, and boy it wasn’t working out.. This’ll be great!

    I’ve been wanting to make plugins for a while, but it’s just been this little stuff that’s holding me back. I don’t have the time to stare at a bazillion wordpress pages to find out how their hooks work.. Thanks!!

  25. Robert,

    if you want to beat your goal of 30k for the month….

    Just repackage some PLR with your personal touch 🙂 they way you did once do the WSO that you added videos to! 🙂

  26. Robert,

    how long will we have to wait for posts?

    you should be posting once or twice a week…

    I mean…. you promised! 😀


  27. Pol Bablak says:

    Hiya, just discovered you through an email from Chris Lockwood promoting your time management product and now I KNOW that it was worth the investment. I loved the Prisoner too even when I didn’t have a clue what was going on 🙂 I can assure you, I will be back! Where have I heard that before…

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