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Clarity Lab Issue 97 – The Land of Milk and Money

by | Apr 29, 2023

Oh hi there. :^)

Sorry for the radio silence. Five months ago, before everyone started freaking out about ChatGPT, I asked what was then a cute little AI chat bot to curate and write my newsletter for me. I mean, why wouldn’t I?

Turns out that ChatGPT doesn’t know how to write puns. Or humor. Or humorous puns.

So when I asked it to curate and write my newsletters for me, it apparently got stuck in an infinite loop when trying to write the very first punny headline…and it never sent out any newsletters. I wasn’t aware this was happening. It just kept texting me “Everything is great, Dave. People love your newsletter and I’m happy to help you write it.”

Joking aside, the real reason for the pause in my newsletters: as much as I LOVE writing these newsletters for you, I don’t earn any money from doing the work to create them, and I’ve been in a period of life where any extra time I have needs to go to generating income.

“But Forest,” you ask, “why don’t you monetize your newsletter?” Great question, my friend. Thank you for asking. Well, here’s the thing; there are challenges I haven’t solved with each of the available options to make money directly from a newsletter, at least as they relate to my particular newsletter.

If you’ve ever thought about making money from your own newsletter but haven’t looked into it yet, there are 6 main ways people make money from newsletters:

Give short free previews of each issue and charge a monthly subscription to read the full member’s only version.
Grow your newsletter list to a size that would be appealing to advertisers or sponsors that sell products or services to the kind of people on your email list, and sell ad space/sponsorship space in your newsletters.
Sell your own products (like online courses, ebooks, or physical products) or services (like coaching, consulting, or panda cuddling) to your newsletter audience.
Sprinkle affiliate links in your newsletter content where it makes sense and earn affiliate income when people sign up for things you recommend.
Sell access to an online community membership space like a Slack or Discord channel, or a Circle community forum.
Donations or tips sent to you through a virtual “tip jar” like Paypal or Patreon.

For reasons that I won’t bore you with, there are challenges I haven’t solved yet in regards to getting my newsletter to head down any of those paths. (Some of them I’m not interested in pursuing and others wouldn’t work well for my newsletter in its current format.)

So, until ChatGPT learns how to write better humor for me, I will most likely send you letters on a rather sporadic schedule.

I apologize for that. Whenever I take a break from writing you guys I get emails from many people asking me where I went, or what happened to the newsletter. From what you guys tell me via private emails, a lot of you love getting these newsletters from me.

If I could solve the puzzle I mentioned above, I’d write to you a couple of times a week with things that could help you and maybe make you smile or laugh. That would be my version of living the dream.

I’m hesitant to talk too much about my own business challenges, because these newsletters are meant to help you find something that can help you in your quest to earn money doing something you love, so I’ll pause here for now.

I’m happy to talk about my challenges, but will only do that when I see a way to tell a story that can be of some benefit to you.

Maybe like this story that happened to me last week: I quickly glanced at the clock in the dimly lit room I had just crashed into, breathing hard from my sprint down the sterile, bright hallway. It said 9:33 am. I had exactly 12 minutes left to pull this off and no way to get out of the building. All at once I heard his footsteps running down the hall towards me and without thinking I clutched the stolen hard drive, my hard drive, in my right hand and headed for the window above the alley, slid it open, and jumped 2 storeys down into a dumpster full of black trash bags. It took me 2 seconds to get out of the dumpster and I hit the wet, red bricks of the alley with a confident “whump,” and started running as hard as I could. Behind me, I heard a loud, dull thud in the dumpster and then a louder “FUCK!!!” in a Russian accent. He chose the wrong spot of the dumpster to land in. He’s never been very smart, but I’ll give it to him, he knows the value of what’s on my hard drive.

Okay, okay. That didn’t actually happen, but I wanted to make you smile a little with an unexpected story. The thing is, now I want to know what happens next! 



As someone who likes to write longform content on the web, it’s nice when I see another longform writer I’ve followed for a while grow his newsletter like mad and start making more than $3.5 million a year. Just from writing his newsletter. I’m not jealous at all.

If you’re curious how Packy McCormick, who writes the Not Boring newsletter, managed to pull this off over the span of a couple of years, here’s how he did it. Don’t mind me. I’m just going to sit in the corner and have a nice conversation with ChatGPT about teddy bears.


Cold hands, warm start.

If you ever find yourself wondering what your next business idea could be, or how you could get insight from other people running a similar business as you, check out Starter Story. It’s a site full of thousands of stories about how people started their small to medium sized businesses, how they got the idea, how much they’re making per month and per year, and things they learned from the journey.


The land of milk and money.

I have a love-hate relationship with bookkeeping that leans mostly towards the hate end. This is somewhat awkward because of my wife’s business and work in the world, which helps people improve their relationship with money. But I’ve recently started using a bookkeeping app that’s swinging me towards the love side of love-hate bookkeeping spectrum. It’s called Tiller and it’s basically like adding bookkeeping superpower extensions to Google or Excel spreadsheets. It is, by far, the best bookkeeping software I’ve ever used. ALL of your bank and credit card transactions from all your account, all in one spreadsheet with multiple tabs. Holy crap is it nice.

+ And you know what pairs exceedingly well with Tiller? My wife’s books, The Art of Money and The Art of Money Workbook. The first is an award-winning book about the methodology she teaches in her year-long program (which unfortunately comes with several stories about me freaking out about money), and the second is a companion workbook/journal that guides you deeper into the work (which, hallelujah, has zero stories about Forest wigging out about money.)


EI AI Ohhhh.

Been playing with ChatGPT and want to take your prompt engineering skills to the next level? Here’s a great article with loads of prompting tips and 100 prompts to help you do things like write blog posts, emails, Youtube video scripts, press releases, or even to get it to help you brainstorm ideas for anything in your business.


Are you even valid?

Because I’ve been down the rabbit hole of learning about artificial intelligence tools that could enhance my business workflows, I’ve come across a lot of new AI tools lately. Here’s one that I thought you might find interesting: you type in an idea for a business and this AI chatbot gives you feedback about the viability of your idea. It’s an AI business idea validator. Thumbs up on this one, as it liked my self-cleaning dishware idea.

That’s all for now, my friend. I hope all is going well on your end over there!

~ Forest Linden
Writer at Clarity Lab, with a newsletter that’s published every sometimes.

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