I am going to level with you - if you are hoping to make a living on the internet, without a tribe of loyal fans things are going to be rough. The tribe doesn't have to be massive, even a thousand loyal fans will do.
But having a thousand true fans is only step 1. The deal maker, as it were, is to maintain a reliable communication channel with your fans. Kevin Kelly explains this succinctly in his post above.
...you must have a direct relationship with your fans.
That is where mailing lists come in. Time and again, people have successfully used mailing lists to maintain a direct connection with their tribe allowing them to thrive in the cacaphony of the Internet.
Here's Rebecca Murtagh on the subject.
Success lies in the relationship you have with each member of your audience. ‘The List’ is the lifeblood of any brand seeking to generate revenue, grow market share and create a sustainable business model that can adapt as the marketplace changes...The Money Is in The List.
Understandably, given how critical the list is to surviving on the web, a myriad ways have emerged to help drive conversions.
For example, Studio Wombat promises to boost conversions by up to 200% by gamifying opt-ins. Their USP is a Wheel Of Fortune!
From Studio Wombat
These solutions don't address a critical reason why opt-in rates are so abysmally low.
Most people start their day on social media. Sites like Medium, Twitter, Reddit, HackerNews, and so on have earned their trust. When they click through to your website, they are leaving behind the safety and familiarity of, say, Twitter, to visit an unfamiliar site - yours. I don't care how well designed your site is, this transition is jarring and surprising.
The natural instinct then, is to return to safety, to familiarity, to Twitter, by clicking the BACK button. This one chain of event costs us so many conversions.
For a second, take a look at the title texts and hyperlinks on this page. If you came here from Medium, Twitter, Reddit, HackerNews, or IndieHackers, these elements should have taken on the color of those websites.
With this change, I have subliminally conveyed to you that I grok the site you came from, that this website is a Safe Harbor because it is familiar.
How-To Use Safe Harbor on Your Site?
If you want to try it yourself, implementing Safe Harbor on your site cannot be simpler.
Just copy-paste the following two lines of code into your mailing list signup page and convert it into a Safe Harbor for site visitors. This is literally all you need to do.
Not only can you convert the sign up page into a Safe Harbor, you can also convert the entire site into a Safe Harbor by placing the above two lines in the site footer.
If you need help setting up Safe Harbor on your website, just shoot me an email (ssr233 AT gmail DOT com) with your URL.