Tarzan Kay


April 12, 2024

to you

What you're reading is a copy of an email my subscribers received. This is an archive, so it's possible some links are missing or expired. If you want to stay in the loop, make sure to jump on my email list and get these delivered direct to your inbox!


important announcement (part 1 of 2)

 Wanna Hang Out This Month? 

 Live Event: ConnectFest Niagara
Thursday, April 11 in Niagara @ 9:30 am
I’m giving a brand new talk about consent-based marketing—what it looks like, required tech, the language of consent, and why it’s the future of marketing.
Cost: $110 CAD
Use code TARZAN to get 25% off your ticket. 
Grab a ticket here

 The Email Membership ​
Will return as spaces become available.
Cost: $300/month

 PANEL DISCUSSION: “What’s Hot In Copy?” 
​I’m speaking on a panel with Laura Belgray, Christina Torres, and Frenchie Ferenczi. Quite the group, am I right? Certain to be hilarious and entertaining.
Thursday, April 18 @ 12 pm ET

A line with a paper airplane in the middle, indicating the start of a new section.

NOTE: Please cite my work when you share what you learned from me on this topic. Your unique referral link is https://sparklp.co/b0b989bb/

I’m making a big change in my messaging
(tell me if you already noticed)

In my early days of cult recovery work, I was scared and dysregulated a lot of the time.

I was untangling decades of indoctrination into systems of control, from The Brethren (the group I was raised in) to New Age spirituality to online business to personal development and wellness culture. It often felt like I was 3 ft outside my body.

My entire worldview went into the trash overnight.

 I ate Cheetos for breakfast.

 I sent emails denouncing former colleagues who’d given me a platform and sent me a ton of business.

 I donated my Eckhart Tolle books, retired my Buddha statue to the garden, and stashed my appropriated religious paraphernalia in the basement where I didn’t have to think about it.

It was liberating but also very destabilizing.

“What do I believe now?” I asked myself. “Where do I go from here?”

Through cult recovery classes and therapy, I started to pick up patterns that would help me avoid reindoctrinating myself into some new cult, as is common among people who leave high-control groups.

I knew what I didn’t want, but it wasn’t clear what to do instead.

My subscribers were asking this too.

At the time I was yelling all over the internet about the extractive, coercive nature of online business but I didn’t have a ton of solutions other than “use less persuasion for higher-cost offers.”

[Actually, I did a bit better than that, as you can see in this free audio series. I also created this consent-based copywriting program that teaches most of what you need to know without actually using the word “consent.”]

It’s taken 3 years to see that the solution I was looking for was learning the fundamentals of consent: how to ask for things and say no, recognizing what no sounds like, listening to my gut, communicating boundaries, revoking consent and renewing it, implied vs explicit consent, the importance of the words “I believe you,” and and and.

The same principles I was using to teach my children about consent can be applied to marketing.

Two pages of a children book. Page one read "When a person uses POWER to get someone to agree" and has a picture of a bear saying "give me that cheese" and a mouse saying "okay don't hurt me" and handing him the cheese. The next page says, "That's still not consent."
From Consent (For Kids) by Rachel Brian, one of my all-time
favourite books to read with my kids (and sometimes by myself)


With that in mind, I have an announcement 

I’m making a pivot from talking about coercive marketing to talking about consent, and what that looks like in marketing and delivery.

Maybe you already noticed this change in language? The word is on all of my newsletter opt-in pages and graphics. When I look at the mission + values I wrote on my about page a year ago, consent is right at the top. This isn’t new. Sandra and I have been testing and batting around strategies for years. But somehow it feels new, since it’s only now become clear that consent is the keystone of my work.

It’s weird it took me so long to get here.

When I talk about coercive marketing, people get scared. I can feel them turning away. Layers of shame bubble up, for the things we’ve done and the things that have been done to us. Having conversations about coercion is like swimming through thick mud. I don’t blame people for turning away.

Consent-based marketing, on the other hand?

Those same people lean in, wanting to know more. What does that look like? How can I do that in my business?

Consent is the ultimate antidote for coercion.

It’s the ideal solution for cult survivors who can learn to recognize systems of control but also need a framework for what to do instead (hat tip to my bestie Coach Kathleen Oh who made this link for me).

But it’s also the missing piece for online business owners, course creators, and service providers whose trust has been broken many times with disappointing offers they didn’t really need, the backlog of courses they bought because the FOMO was so thick and the promises so big, or from accidentally getting caught in the affiliate marketing circle jerk that keeps money circulating between a closed group of people.

If those disappointed customers are your customers, consent is your work. If you are that person, consent is also your work.

Trust has been broken but it is not irreparable.

You can repair trust with your customers by using consent-based business strategies in both your marketing and delivery.

More importantly, you can repair trust in yourself.

People lay so much shame and blame on themselves for the purchases they bought off the back of a highly persuasive (ahem, coercive) sales funnel. My subscribers tell me all the time, “I wish I could buy your program but I have so many others I haven’t even looked at and I feel so guilty spending more money when I’m hardly making ends meet.”

To quote Rachel Brian in Consent (For Kids), “That’s NOT your fault.”

And also…

If you don’t take care to unlearn the coercive strategies that you’ve fallen prey to, you will harm others because those strategies are all you know.

Hurt people hurt people. That’s how it works.

But we can learn different ways of marketing and delivering our services, and we can repair the damage.

I’ll save the “how” for part 2

And no, it’s not a sales pitch. (Not that sales pitches are bad. Everyone’s gotta eat and pay our newly inflated mortgages.)

25 years ago, Seth Godin introduced the world to permission-based marketing, and it changed marketing forever.

I want to do that for consent-based marketing. And I’ll continue next week with a simple lesson on the three fundamentals of consent, how they apply to marketing, and how consent-based marketing is different from permission-based marketing.

In the meantime, I have an ask:

Will you share my work with 1 person today? (Or better yet, will you share it with your community?)

Your unique referral link is https://sparklp.co/b0b989bb/. Here’s a graphic you could pop in an email. You get cool prizes for sending me subscribers.

a beautiful woman with light, glowing skin, a bright smile and moth-wing brass earrings wears an expensive-looking chunky wool sweater and holds a pair of glasses and looks smartly at the camera. The text reads: Emails, but better by Tarzan Kay. A newsletter about newsletters, for marketers who care about consent. Read by more than 10,000 consenting adults.

Alt text you can use (edit as desired ): a beautiful woman with light, glowing skin and a bright smile wears an expensive-looking chunky wool sweater and moth-wing brass earrings, holds a pair of glasses and looks smartly at the camera. The text reads: Emails, but better by Tarzan Kay. A newsletter about newsletters, for marketers who care about consent. Read by more than 10,000 consenting adults.

I don’t want to spend the rest of my life atoning for the sins of my past. The guilt I feel about all the harm I’ve done as a marketer and a marketing teacher? I want to leave that in the past, and invite you to do the same.

My work around consent-based marketing is a love letter to all of my past and future customers, and to their customers by extension.

When I teach about consent in my Email Stars classes, I can feel the room buzz.

This is it, folks.

I’ve spent years looking for a path ahead, and nearly given up so many times. I found the path more than a year ago, but it’s taken this long for me to see what I was looking at, and give language to it.

But now I recognize what I’ve found, and it feels so damn good.

100% worth the wait.

I hope you stick around for part 2 and I hope you’ll share my work using your unique referral link so that I can properly thank you – again it’s https://sparklp.co/b0b989bb/.



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More from me on consent-based marketing

 Copy Caboose—a copywriting course that teaches how to write sales copy that feels great and makes sales

Cost: $500. Use the coupon code “CONSENT” to get $100 off this week only

 The 7 Scrubs For Writing High-Integrity Copy That Converts
Free audio series about how to use persuasion according to your values i.e. how to avoid bypassing consent

Download to your podcast app here | Get the email series that goes with (this will bump you off newsletter delivery for a bit)

Reply to the email


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Start writing consent-based copy and prioritize people over profit 


You can make money without being a greasy promise-pusher, slapping "70% OFF FOR ONE DAY ONLY!" all over your website, or putting giant red countdown timers in every email. Here's how. 


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