Show notes by host Kirsten Oliphant
So you listened to the podcast with Amy Lynn Andrews, you know you should have a newsletter. You read the last post with the rundown of email service providers and chose one. Now for the million dollar questions: What do you put IN your newsletter? And how often do you send it?
Before you make the decision on what content and how often, you need to know WHY you are sending an email. What are your goals? This will help you make decisions on what you include and how often you email your subscribers.
Which brings up two MORE questions: Who is your audience and what do they want from you?
Now that I have harassed you with questions, here are some things to consider as you plan what you want to include in your email and how often you hit send.
Be a student of email newsletters.
I love to see what other people are doing! Signing up for email lists shows me how people handle even simple things like the emails that go out to confirm subscription. I like to see what kind of content people send, what it looks like design-wise, and how often they send me something. The point is not to copy what someone else is doing, but you might get an idea that you can piggyback from to tweak your list.
Make people AFRAID to unsubscribe.
This really stuck with me from the interview with Amy Lynn Andrews. She said that this was her goal in creating the Useletter. It is really HARD to think about creating something unique, isn’t it? You want to give value, but value can look like a lot of things. Value can look like tips or encouragement or humor or curated links or a tutorial or getting your blog posts or something personal (if you have a very brand that centers around YOU). Brainstorm ideas. See what you like to read. Above all, have great content and value.
Don’t give too little; don’t give too much.
Some people prefer a once-monthly newsletter or twice a month. The benefit is that people don’t feel like you are hounding them all the time. But that is ALSO the downside! I have subscribed to lots of emails and then totally forgotten because there is no weekly email. A month later when I get an email, I may have NO IDEA who that blogger is. Sending on a weekly basis means consistency and also familiarity. The downside, of course, being that we all have 800 emails a day and you don’t want to just add to the noise. See above: MAKE GREAT CONTENT.
If your blog is all about parenting, don’t send an email about how to blog. Make sure your email content lines up with what you tell people when they sign up, or the context in which they find the sign-up. If you talk about several different things, you can segment the list and give options where people can simply get tips for blogging OR your parenting posts. You want a consistent voice and brand that runs through your email and your blog and your social media presence. The benefit of this is that no one else is YOU. By being you and being consistent, you will already by nature have unique content. There might be 50,000 blogs about blogging, but you are the only YOU writing about blogging. Be personable and embrace the things that make you unique.
Don’t forget also as you’re considering this what you are able to sustain. If you want to write a weekly email with fresh content, remember that it takes time and you need to set that aside. If curating links sounds great, but you don’t have the time to spend looking for those links, then that might not be the best option for you.
Content Options Email Newsletters
RSS Feed- Set up your RSS feed to run through Mailchimp or MadMimi or the provider you choose. If you really care about hits and traffic, you may consider having truncated posts, where you have the first bit of a post show up and then a link for people to read more.
Teaser Email Per Post- When you have a new post up, send a teaser email that encourages people to click over to the blog and read more. This is different from a truncated RSS feed because this email is NOT a shortened version of the post, but totally new copy. Sign up for Blog Tyrant’s email if you want to see a great example of this!
Big News- When I first started my list, I was beginning to self-publish books on Amazon. My list consisted of people who wanted updates about when my books were live and when they were on sale so they could buy or help promote. This requires little work on your part, but may run the risk of having people wonder who you are if you email once a year.
Totally Fresh Content- This type of email requires the most work, but can also be the most rewarding. If your email list is such a valuable commodity, it is a worthy investment of time. You can hone this to look like whatever you want it to, but the key point is that you are sending something exclusive ONLY for subscribers. If you do this, it’s a great idea to also link (via text or image) to the recent blog posts so people can click over to your blog if they missed any posts. I love how Laura Fuentes of Momables creates her weekly email!
Tip: You want to have a WARM list. This means that you have a list that is engaged and opening your email. When people unsubscribe, think of it as your list getting warmer. You don’t want people who aren’t actually interested in you taking up space on your email list.
What are YOU putting in your email newsletter? Let’s chat in the comments or in the Facebook group!